FROM W. AUSTRALIA Topic: AUSTRALIAN AFFAIRS
WESTERN AUSTRALIA - The Truth in Media readers had their first encounter with Graham Strachan's writing last October, when we ran this Australian author's "Mother of All Stings" piece Judging by the reactions we've received, Strachan had won over quite a few fans among the TiM readers.
Born in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Strachan, is an unusual author - with degrees in biology and law. He is also a former large company businessmen, consultant, practicing attorney, and now a writer with two recent book to his credit - "Economic Rationalism: a Disaster for Australia" (1997), and "Globalisation: Demise of the Australian Nation" (1998). He currently devotes his time to researching and writing articles and books on politics and philosophy. Such as his latest, "Bad Science, Good Propaganda," for example.
In the article which follows, Strachan argues that successive Australian Labor (akin to Democrats in the U.S.) and Liberal (akin to Republicans in the U.S.) governments have been selling out their voters in the name of global "economic rationalism."
Since similar trends are discernible in the U.S., we also recommend that you check out an Annex Research report on the latest U.S. employment trends - "The Upsizing of America." And for those seeking a global perspective of corporate downsizing and the so-called "economic rationalism" in developed countries, we recommend the "Two Faces of Globalism").
And now, what a better occasion to help the TiM readers across the world learn more about the goings on Down Under than to do it on the eve of the Australia Day - Jan. 26. Happy birthday Australia!
QUEENSLAND, Australia - In 1994, after the Keating (Labor) government committed Australia to the Asia Pacific Economic Community (APEC), an editorial appeared in The Australian newspaper warning people what to expect from economic change. There would be adjustments , industrial, cultural, and economic, rationalizations of whole industries, job losses, social dislocation as unemployment forced families to relocate. People were to be retrained. Impediments to growth and competitiveness were to be removed. Community sacrifices would be required [The Weekend Australian, 19-20 November, 1994].
The warning came a bit late. The things described had been going on since at least 1985, the result of economic change brought on by the globalization policies of the Hawke (Labor) government. Late though they were, The Australian's predictions were accurate.
Between 1985 and 1997, over 3.3 million Australians were retrenched (laid off in North American parlance), and forced to find replacement jobs [Sydney Morning Herald, October 20, 1997]. More than 25% of the jobs they found (if they did) had been downgraded to part time. So while the government unemployment figures continue to look good, now two and sometimes three people are doing a job previously done by one.
On top of that, unemployed people who have given up looking for work are excluded from the figures. It's all a sham and everybody knows or suspects it. Youth, mature age, and long term unemployment are major problems and getting worse.
The problem is not confined to the cities. In 1985, for example, there were 172,000 farms, now there are close to 100,000, a reduction of more than 40%. And the remaining farmers are walking away from the land at the rate of 35 per week (the government's own figure) with the aid of a taxpayer-funded assistance package which helps them LEAVE.
The remaining farms are 30% larger (farmers were told to get big or get out), but they employ 30% less people. Because of the shortage of jobs, people are leaving the country towns in droves. It even has a name: "exodus from the bush." So empty have some country centers become, that businesses are closing, and bank branches, schools, hospitals, rail, bus and other services are being discontinued.
This is all well documented [See Geoffrey Lawrence, Capitalism in the Countryside: the Rural Crisis in Australia (1987); Graham Strachan, Globalisation: Demise of the Australian Nation (1998)], and the picture is the same in every country touched by globalization with its policy of economic rationalism. That's what downsizing and economic rationalizing mean: ELIMINATING JOBS!
Which makes it all the more bizarre that The Australian, the ("establishment") newspaper whose editorial warned people what to expect, is now running stories denying that economic change has anything to do with job losses in the bush.
Twice in the last two months, The Australian News Network has run the same news report by one Ian Henderson entitled "Study Counters Hanson Reform Fear" [latest on January 20, 1999]. The claim relates to a study conducted by the Productivity Commission, one of the bodies responsible for economic reform , which purportedly proves that the claims of the One Nation Party... that economic change is causing job losses in the bush... is a load of codswallop. According to the Productivity Commission and Mr. Henderson, whatever it is that's causing job losses in the bush, it can't be economic change.
In anticipation of charges that the Productivity Commission might have a vested interest in downplaying the socially disruptive effects of government policy, Mr. Henderson refers to it gratuitously as the mild-mannered standard bearer of economic reform. It soon becomes apparent, however, that not only is the Commission 's study highly suspect, but Mr. Henderson's reporting of its findings, is just another example of the "establishment" media's demonizing the One Nation party.
Mr. Henderson begins by repeating the shared media superstition that One Nation's support is underpinned by fears of change. This is of course nonsense. If it is possible to boil the One Nation people down to a single motivation, it is DISGUST, not fear.
Having attacked One Nation supporters ad hominem, Mr. Henderson then uses the familiar Straw Man technique, which consists of erecting a straw man and then knocking him down. In other words, you misrepresent what your opponent is saying, proceed to demolish your own misrepresentation, and then claim victory. To misrepresent One Nation's position Henderson employs another familiar technique of dishonest argument, reductionism , reducing One Nation's position down to one narrow claim: that economic change has savaged jobs and job security in the bush in particular. That, according to Henderson, is what scares One Nation people shitless.
The claim is dishonest. One Nation claims that economic rationalism has caused job losses across the board, not only in the bush. So why narrow it down to in the bush in particular ? Because Mr. Henderson is fashioning his Straw Man to fit his own argument, and nothing the Commission found refuted One Nation's claim that economic change was responsible for job losses in the city. Nor could it dispute that there were job losses in the bush. But if it could somehow sever the connection between the job losses and economic change, it could claim to have proved by detailed research (Henderson's words) that the One Nation people were imagining it all, or scare-mongering.
So if it wasn't economic change, what DID cause the job losses in the bush? Well we don't get to find out. Perhaps the jobs were eaten by gremlins? Obviously many factors can account for the difference in the effect on employment of structural change in different areas, and a proper scientist would go looking for them. They might find, for example, that in some areas more people left and went to the city to find work, so that job destruction in some areas of the bush showed up as unemployment in the city.
The researchers themselves identified one such factor: the regions which showed the least job loss for the most change were those which had larger service sectors to absorb the people thrown out of work as traditional industries (farms and mines) were destroyed.
What is interesting is the implication: that towns can somehow continue to have strong service sectors, even when there is nothing left to service. Without traditional industries , which are being destroyed or downsized (which is what One Nation people are on about) there will ultimately be no service sectors , no matter what fairyland the Productivity Commission lives in.
The Commission's findings, Henderson's uncritical reporting of them, and the fact that The Australian has already run his report twice, confirm that this is yet another shabby attempt to discredit One Nation and its supporters. In fact, it discredits further the Australian News Network and its journalists, to say nothing of the Productivity Commission and its Social so-called Scientists. It's all good propaganda, but bad science.
Graham Strachan's e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org; some of his articles can also be found on the Web at: http://www.overflow.net.au/~bizbrief or at http://www.gwb.com.au/gwb/news/economic
Also, check out... "Bad Science, Good Propaganda," "Murder by Media. Death of Democracy in Australia", "Mother of All Stings," "Trials of Being a David", or our Aussie travel vignettes, such as "Helmets Are In, Bikes Are Out."
Or Djurdjevic's WASHINGTON TIMES columns: "When Will Wall Street's Bubble Burst?", "Russia, IMF, and Global House of Cards", "Rekindling NATO to Fuel Cold War..." or his CHRONICLES column: "Wiping Out the Middle Class."